She was dropped at the front door of the baby’s House either at night or early in the morning.
At night, the baby’s House was closed. There was a duty officer in the lobby and nurses on each floor. The janitor came early in the morning and cleaned the territory. Immediately after him came the employees of the food department. A small dairy kitchen also worked here. Its discovery has been sought for several years: they proved that it is better to cook milk mixtures here, in the baby’s House.
This morning, the janitor was the first to notice the package on the threshold in front of the front door to the baby’s House. He came up. I heard some grunting. I guessed: it looks like a child. He got scared and started knocking on the door. And a minute later, the doctor on duty examined the little girl – she was in the bundle. It was she who was grunting. They unwrapped the pikey blanket and saw first a pacifier on half of the baby’s face, then eyes that opened and seemed to be looking for something.
It was a girl. No more than one and a half to two months old. She looks healthy. She was examined. Weighed. Measured the height. Everything is fine. Even the navel was treated and healed. While the girl was being examined, the police were called. Two young policemen arrived. Probably, this was the first case in their practice – they had not yet registered foundlings. They looked at the baby from this side, then from that side, while she greedily swallowed the milk mixture brought by the nurse. Then the baby came up with a first and last name. I liked “Vasilisa”. So they wrote it down. And the name was given to Krylova – the baby was found on the porch. Only the date of birth was known relatively accurately. So the girl got her first and last name. And his new residence permit.
The police started looking for Mom. And the staff of the Baby’s House is Vasilisa. Vasilisa was shown to narrow specialists: a maximally filled medical card was required in the baby’s House. And if, in principle, none of the specialists found a deviation, then the ophthalmologist wrote: heterochrony. Or, as people say, cat’s eyes. What actually means is the different color of the iris of the left and right eyes. The different colors did not immediately catch the eye. He might not have been noticed at birth. Moreover, Vasilisa turned out to be a dormouse – she slept a lot. But the ophthalmologist noticed and diagnosed.
Actually, heterochrony can not be considered a disease – as a rule, it does not affect vision. Most often, it is inherited. Sometimes after a generation. It’s all in the pigment melanin: it may be in excess or, conversely, lacking. The police were searching for the biological mother. All maternity hospitals in the city and in the suburbs were checked. We were looking for women who gave birth to girls one and a half to two months ago. We were guided by the date of Vasilisa’s admission to the baby’s House. To no avail. The survey also did not give anything, did anyone see a pregnant woman who, according to the timing, should already give birth, but there is no child. They called all the midwives who officially delivered at home. Also nothing. We checked at the train stations those who beg, taking a baby for more pity. The girl was not found. They sent out an orientation to neighboring regions.
And three hundred kilometers away, a young woman was restless. She just couldn’t believe that this had happened to her, to her daughter…
A father and son lived in a large three-room apartment in the city center. We lived together: when Maxim was ten years old, his mother literally burned down in six months from cancer. But we must pay tribute to the father: he devoted himself entirely to his son. And he raised him so that he didn’t have to blush.
Maxim studied well, played sports, Like his father, was fond of technology. Their house was always in order. And dumplings from the store were rarely here. Father and son sat down once a month and made a hundred dumplings. Such as my mother did. They generally kept the order that was with my mother. And although they rarely said they remembered her, it was clear enough.
In his senior year, Maxim was one of the first to know where he would study next – he chose the capital Polytechnic University. And entered on the budget. Although his father immediately said that he would cope with his studies if he had to pay. But both hoped, not without reason, that Maxim would pass the exams successfully. Seeing himself on the list of accepted, Maxim immediately called his father and heard from him:
– I’m proud of you, son. I wish Mom would be happy…
Maxim came home for a week. They gathered the most necessary things with their father, carefully packed them. And they spent all the evenings together: it was the first time they parted for so long. That’s when Maxim decided to ask his father:
– Dad, will you still be alone?
“I don’t know, son,” the man replied cheerlessly.
– I would be glad if there was a woman next to you. Worthy of you,” Maxim said.
– We’ll see there, there is no such thing yet. I wasn’t looking.
Maxim would really like his father to have a family. He’s not old yet. And that’s how he can stay alone? Maybe when Maxim leaves, his father will decide on a new life?
When Maxim came home for the holidays after the first year, it turned out that his father had made up his mind: he said that he wanted to introduce his son to a woman. He didn’t tell me anything else. But it became clear to Maxim that his father’s relationship with this woman was serious. And he caught himself with an ambivalent feeling: he was happy for his father, but at the same time, he could not imagine that there was someone like his mother. But after meeting Elena, a young, pretty woman, Maxim calmed down: she treated her father very well. And he answered her in the same way. In short, after the holidays Maxim left with a light heart: now his father is not alone. At the same time, saying goodbye on the platform, the father said that they were going to sign, and Elena would move in with them.
– I’m happy for you, – Maxim addressed both his father and Elena. – It’s a pity that I won’t be able to attend your wedding.
– And when is your wedding? – his father decided to ask him. – Is there a bride at least?
– There is a bride. Only she doesn’t know yet that she’s my fiancee,” Maxim replied with a bit of a joke. – But your example spurred me on. I’ll come and get her married right away. Maxim was talking about Natasha, his classmate.
And so his father asked him to tell him what she was like, Maxim probably wouldn’t have found the right words. I just saw her for the first time in the audience, saw the sun shining in her red hair, then looked into her eyes, and that’s it. He had never seen eyes like Natasha’s.
Maxim didn’t have much experience with girls. There were girlfriends from the classroom and from the yard. Now here are classmates and roommates. But Maxim has never experienced such a sinking heart, as at the sight of Natasha. For a long time he did not dare to invite Natasha to the cafe. And I was surprised when she agreed.
It was later that Natasha confessed to him that she did not hope that Maxim would notice her. So they became, as they were dubbed in the group, a couple. And no one doubted that Natasha and Maxim would be together after university.
Maxim asked his father to find out if his factory needed engineers of the specialty that Maxim received at the university. And he asked me to find out if Natasha, with whom he was going to return home, could also count on the plant. My father was respected at the factory. And they said they were ready to accept two young specialists with diplomas from the most famous university. And the day after receiving the diploma, Maxim and Natasha arrived. A festive dinner was waiting for them at home. At dinner, they told me that they were going to apply to the registry office. And if no one objects, we would like to live in this apartment until they buy their own.
“Son,” said the father, “what are you asking about?” This is your apartment, too. And, therefore, Natasha. Live! There’s enough room for everyone.
There was really enough space. Three rooms, and all separate. Large kitchen, balcony. The house was, as they say, Stalinist. And native to Maxim. So the four of them began to live together. We only got together for dinner and on weekends. The most problematic rooms – the kitchen and the bathroom unit – did not cause any problems in their apartment. The men left for work early, at seven in the morning they were no longer there. Then, by eight, Natasha would leave. And Elena was later than everyone else – the first lesson in her music school began at nine. So both the shower and breakfast were available to everyone. It seems to be a trifle. But a lot of people have a reason for irritation, and then conflict. But not in this family. And the family was not bored at the weekend. After doing the obligatory homework, loading the refrigerator and cooking lunch, they often went to the cinema and theater, willingly walked along the embankment, liked to sit in a cafe. And all this while talking.
And when the family has common themes, then it’s interesting without guests. Natasha, who was brought up by her grandmother, could not get enough that everything was going so well. The only thing that confused her: sometimes she caught either a wary, or a scrutinizing look from Elena. Well, you never know what! And so Elena was friendly, always offered help. In a word, Natasha ordered herself not to invent.
One evening Maxim came home from work cheerful.
“Natasha,” he said, “they gave me a very big bonus. Let’s take our cup, let’s count how much has run into the apartment there.
They called a decorative jug with a lid, bought on one of their trips along the Volga, a cup. So this jug didn’t seem to be good for anything, but it was quite good for storing money. They counted everything they had accumulated. It turned out decently.
– Natasha, another year at most, and we will be able to buy an apartment. Maybe then Father and Elena will risk to increase the family? Well, you and I will definitely increase it. I so want our miracle to stomp! And I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl,” Maxim said.
Natasha also wanted a baby. But it was her idea to have her own apartment first, and then the children. But it didn’t work out that way: a couple of days later, Natasha found out that she was pregnant. I told Maxim. He picked her up in his arms and spun her around the room:
– The apartment can wait, right, Natasha? The three of us will wait for her. Natasha went to a women’s consultation the next day. She passed the tests, and she was registered. And in the evening at dinner they told what news they had. The father was delighted: he had been waiting for a grandson or granddaughter for a long time. But I didn’t bother with questions. And Elena generally showed a violent reaction, she repeated several times:
– So, then, I will be Grandma Lena!
And again Natasha doubted her sincerity. But once again she scolded herself: well, the person is happy! Why find fault!
Natasha’s pregnancy passed without complications. I went on maternity leave on time. I learned to knit. The first cap for the unborn child, everyone praised. Yes, Natasha liked him herself. The future child, no matter how much Natasha was not looked at by ultrasound, hid his gender in a partisan way. Therefore, Natasha chose white and green yarn for the cap to suit both the girl and the boy.
It’s time to go to the hospital. Natasha hadn’t been feeling well since lunch, and when Maxim came home from work, there was no hiding the contractions. Maxim helped Natasha get dressed, the father-in-law took the prepared package, and they called a taxi and went to the maternity hospital. They were not surprised that they were not in an ambulance, the doctor on duty looked, and Natasha was taken straight to the maternity hospital on a gurney.
Everything went quickly. Natasha was praised for following all the instructions clearly, not panicking. I was just too shy to scream. And this, it turns out, is necessary. When Natasha heard that it was necessary to shout to make it easier for the child, she began to scream. And Maxim almost burst into the delivery room from her scream. Only a seasoned nurse stopped him:
– Where are you going? Stay here! Wait!
– So Natasha screams! Maxim pleaded, completely forgetting that he had heard and seen in the movies how women scream in this case.
– And what, do you order her to sing? Well, he’ll scream a little, and then the baby will scream. Wait!
It didn’t take long to wait – soon Maxim heard someone shout in an unfamiliar voice. And I guessed: this is his baby born! The midwife came out and congratulated him on the birth of his daughter. She said that everything went well. And the girl is healthy. Maxim ran out into the street. His father was waiting for him there.
– You’re a grandfather now! You have a granddaughter! – he hugged his father…
Maxim took Natasha and the baby from the hospital, handing flowers to everyone who came out to see them off. And Natasha had such a huge bouquet of roses that she could only hold it with two hands. Maxim immediately took the girl himself, pressed her to him and never took the smile off his face until he got home. And at home they were waiting for an apartment washed to a shine, a baby cot with a canopy, a changing table and a transformer stroller, sparkling with nickel-plated details.
Natasha could not hold back tears when she thanked her relatives. And the newly-made grandfather has already announced the program of the evening: he knows that his granddaughter must first be bathed, and a bath is at her service, then fed, and only then a general dinner. Everyone bathed the baby. More precisely, Natasha bathed, and the others stood and whispered advice. But the girl seemed to like it. She began to object when they pulled her out.
And now the baby is sleeping. And they are sitting in the kitchen and solving two issues: what to call this little man, and whether Natasha will object if Maxim and his father-in-law leave in a week for a business trip abroad.
“Natasha, I can refuse,” Maxim said.
“Yes,” his father confirmed. – But the business trip is responsible. We need a good specialist. And this,” he smiled, “it turns out that our Maxim and even good business trips are guaranteed.
And Natasha began to persuade her husband to go. She’s not the only one left. Elena is with her. Elena nodded her head vigorously… the question of the name was also solved: the girl was named Olya. And three days later she was registered.
And a week later, the men flew out of this apartment. They called home every evening – the first question was always about Olga. Then they told how they were doing, asked if women could cope without them. At first everything was fine. Natasha was coping. Elena helped her – they bathed Olya together. Then Elena began to linger at work. She explained that preparations were underway for the academic concert, and her colleague was ill.
Then Elena stopped eating dinner. She said she had a late lunch. She took a cup of coffee to her room and closed the door One day Natasha caught Elena’s unkind look: she took the ironing board out to the big room in the evenings and ironed Olina’s things. Her daughter was also in the stroller next to her. Elena came in here for some reason and, bypassing the stroller, curled her lips in displeasure. Natasha has always felt how she is treated. And then I felt that not only she, but also Olya irritate Elena. And I adapted to ironing clothes during the day.
Now she bathed her daughter herself, and walked with her herself. Even on the weekend. Elena left early on her day off and came late. And she didn’t always explain what her business was. Natasha began to look forward to her husband. But she didn’t even hint on the phone that something was wrong in the house.
This Friday Natasha went with Olya to the polyclinic for a routine checkup. They were not given any comments, on the contrary, they were praised. Trouble was waiting for Natasha when she lowered the stroller onto the sidewalk. I got caught on the curb and broke my heel. I had to walk with a limp on one leg. Tired, of course. Well, I was upset: I had to look for a shoemaker’s workshop. Where is she? I didn’t see anything nearby. And it so happened that after bathing and feeding Olya, she quietly began to hum a lullaby to her daughter and wanted to sleep herself. And fell asleep. When Elena came, she didn’t hear.
I woke up at dawn – I was surprised that Olya never cried during the night. I went to the crib and was stunned: Olya was not there. Natasha screamed. Elena jumped up. They began to search together. The door was closed. And where the baby went, it was impossible to guess. Natasha started calling the police. The outfit arrived very quickly. We looked at everything again: the front door, the windows, the balcony. We interviewed the neighbors. No one heard anything. The application was accepted. They said they would keep you informed. And what to do next, Natasha did not know.
Elena called her husband. He, of course, told Maxim. It is not known how they shortened the business trip. But the next day we arrived. Maxim didn’t recognize Natasha: she became haggard, her nose sharpened, and her most beautiful eyes of different colors, which Maxim loved so much, went out: the brown eye dimmed, and the dark gray darkened. And Natasha cried all the time. Quietly and desperately. She hugged Olya’s bear to her and did not let him off her hands. Maxim took a personal vacation and disappeared in the police. He found out that the door was opened not with a lock pick, but with keys. In extreme cases, a duplicate. The kidnappers knew the location of the rooms and the furniture in them – they kidnapped the girl quietly. And be careful: she didn’t even cry. Then, obviously, they left by car. But no one saw her.
All city police departments were notified of this incident. The search was conducted by expanding the area – delay in this case can turn into a tragedy. The phone was tapped. But no one called in a day and did not demand a ransom. Also, from the experience of the police, a bad symptom. This hell has been going on for three months. Natasha, not understanding well what her colleagues at work, who were also actively involved in the search, offered, nodded her head to one question, i.e. agreed with what they offered. And it was about posting this wild story on social networks. Maybe someone knows something or noticed something. Let’s say maybe someone made a duplicate of the keys about three months ago. Or saw an infant on a train or bus. And it helped.
One locksmith responded, not from the service – he worked part-time, making spare keys or changing the core of the lock. And he responded, thanks to his wife. He returned from work in the evening and heard his wife telling her friend that she had read about the abduction of a child today. My wife couldn’t hold back her tears. She said that if her Alyosha had been stolen, she would have torn apart the one who did it. And then the locksmith seemed to have an idea: about three months ago a man came to him and said that he urgently needed a duplicate of the keys. For everything – about everything, this guy gives half an hour. But he will pay accordingly. The keys were of medium complexity. But he barely made it in thirty minutes. And the man counted out the money and left. But the locksmith remembered it. The locksmith himself did not expect such a rush from himself – he went to the next entrance to the precinct. And he told about the dashing earnings for emergency work. Then he told the police about the same thing under the protocol. But most importantly, the customer had special signs: several phalanges on the fingers of his right hand were missing. And in general, he was left-handed: he took out his wallet and banknotes with his left hand. So the first suspect appeared.
They were looking for him. And they found it. During the interrogation, he named the customer. More precisely, the customer. And then even the investigator was surprised: the customer was Elena. She was invited for questioning by calling the music school. Elena turned out to be a tough nut to crack. Only at the confrontation was she forced to admit that she was behind the abduction of Olya. Well, the motive was not original: money.
It turns out that Elena lived with a young man for several years, whom she loved very much. He was a gambler. Didn’t work. Simply put, he was sitting on Elena’s neck. She was working. But what is the salary of a music school teacher? And her supposedly husband’s appetites were growing. And he offered Elena to find a wealthy man with an apartment, so that he would become a one-hundred-percent sponsor of requests. Elena, after much thought, agreed – she could not part with this macho man.
A case helped: the best students of the music school performed at one of the factory holidays. And Elena was with them. At this concert, she met a handsome youngish man. She did not force the events – their relationship developed gradually. The turning point was the apartment in the center, which was owned by a man. In the real estate market, you could get a substantial sum for it. But first it was necessary to formalize the relationship. Elena agreed to get married. He registered her in the apartment. And in six months it would be possible to start a divorce. And divide the property.
A lawyer friend promised to help here, a great specialist in the unfair division of property. Moreover, there was also a good-quality cottage and a yacht. But then Maxim and Natasha fell on Elena’s head. I had to pause. And then there was a granddaughter. And decent savings that the young, that the legitimate husband of Elena.
That’s where the plan was played out for the last time: it is necessary to kidnap a child. At night. While the men are on a business trip. Elena gave her keys to the man with whom her beloved husband brought her. And then – a matter of technique: to kidnap at dawn, then the sleep is stronger, and there will be no witnesses. And take them to the neighboring city. There to throw the baby into the House. And make sure that the girl is not adopted in the next three months. Then kidnap her from the baby’s House and demand a ransom.
Elena knew that it would not be difficult to identify the girl’s parents: the baby, like her mother, had heterochrony. Well, DNA can always be done. That’s when the last act will have to be played: demand a ransom. How to do it correctly and safely, Elena’s roommate commanded the parade here. And she could hardly restrain herself from impatience, returning to the apartment, where everyone was just thinking about Olya.
At the hearing, the lawyer pressed the fact that Elena acted humanely: the girl was not harmed. When he uttered this phrase for the second time, there was a commotion in the hall, and the judge did not want to immediately call for order: he shared the indignation of those present.
And the verdict was appropriate – Elena, her ideological inspirer, the kidnapper and the taxi driver who earned money on a trip to a neighboring city, who agreed to forget where, when and with whom he went, received time limits. Different. But the timing. And not conditional.
By tacit consent, neither Natasha, nor Maxim, nor his father pronounce the name Elena in the house. But now it sounds every day here: